DCL MS. B.IV.10John Cassian, Collationes, and others
Held by: Durham Cathedral Library: Durham Cathedral Manuscripts

Manuscript in three broadly coeval parts, wriiten in England in the second hald of the 12th century. A (f.1-101) - John Cassian, Collationes; B (f.102-163) Isidore, Synonyma, Patrick of Dublin, De tribus habitaculis animae, Ivo of Chartres, Epistolae, Miracles of the BVM; C (f.64-171) Miracles of the BVM; plus medieval flyleaf and endleaf (f.i and 172). The flyleaf and the first two parts certainly, all three parts probably, had been brought together by the late 14th century at the latest (contents list of that date on f.ir, and the entry in the 1392 Spendement catalogue); related 14th century pen-trials on f.171v and f.172r indicate that (C) and the endleaf were together then.

Digitised: https://n2t.durham.ac.uk/ark:/32150/t1md217qp72t.html

Physical description of manuscript


Extent: ii+174+i f
Size: 245 mm x 172 mm


Modern ink foliation of the main body of the book runs 1-171, omitting single leaves after 145, 146 and 171, these were numbered 145*, 146* and 172 in pencil. Parchment tab, inscribed 14, attached to f.97.

Secundo folio: positione predicta

Standard Tuckett binding, mid 19th century full brown calf over thick wooden boards (Charles Tuckett, binder to the British Museum, rebound many Durham manuscripts in the 19th century). Stains on f.ir and 172v from the turn-ins of an earlier binding. Stains on f.171v from board channels do not correspond to the positions of the current bands; however, this could be because the leaf, now glued at the gutter to f.171 and the modern endleaf, was repositioned during the Tucketts rebinding.

Manuscript history

(A) may be one of the “Duo paria Decem Collationum” on the late 12th century book-list (Catalogi Veteres, p. 2); early Durham provenance is shown by the fact that it was corrected by Reginald of Durham. (B) might conceivably be the “Soliloquia Isidori” in the “Libri Willelmi de Nunnew'” section of that list (Catalogi Veteres, p. 9); however, the MS seems rather late in date to be associated with a man who was already a member of the community by about 1114 (William of Nunwick, death date unknown: DLV C.98).

Lists of contents, later 14th century, f.ir.
Iohannes Cassianus, [1] De Institucione cenobiorum et de 8 principalibus viciis. Libri 12 Prologus ... [2] Co[llati]ones 10 patrum ab eodem prologus debitum principium libri, cum in heremo scithie. [3] Alie collaciones eiusdem Prologus cum ... principium libri cum in cenobio. [Everything from “Libri 12” to “cum in cenobio” was subsequently crossed through - though note that it is items 1 and 2 rather than items 2 and 3 that are now lacking (a mistake over item 1 is perhaps to be explained by the fact that the rubric to Collatio v (f.39r) is “collatio abbatis Serapionis de viii uitiis principalibus”, which closely resembles a common title to Book V of De institutione). Appended to the list, late 14th century was:] ¶Item libri soliloquiorum ysidori archiepiscopi. ¶Item epistole yuonis. ¶Item libellus de miraculis beate marie virginis. [The book as now recorded corresponds to an entry on the 1392 Spendement catalogue (Catalogi Veteres, p. 24G): “Johannes Cassianus de instutione ceonobiorum et de octo principalibus viciis. Item liber soliloquiorum isideri [sic] archiepiscopi. Epistolae yvonis. Libellus de miraculis beate marie. ii fo posicione predicta”.]
Pressmark: “G”, 14th/15th century, f.1r, top right. Listed in the 1416 Spendement catalogue (Catalogi Veteres p. 101G) with the note that it was then held by “Fereby”, i.e. Henry Ferriby, monk of Durham c.1400-1454 (DLV, C.1044).
“G 4” and an elaborate list of contents, itemizing the individual collations, were added to f.1r, 15th/16th century, by Thomas Swalwell, monk of Durham: “Iohannes Cassianus, De institutione cenobiorum continens – Collationes domin[i] abbatis moysi … Epistole yuonis. Libellus de miraculis beate marie uirginis”.

Physical description of section of manuscript

Parchment: modest to low quality; stout, mottled, flaws and rough patches; initially with a noticeable, then with a glaring H/F contrast and a propensity to curl. Arranged HF, FH.

Extent: 101 f
Size: 245 mm x 172 mm

f.i a singleton, now glued at the gutter to f.1 and the modern flyleaf. I-XII8, XIII5 (= 6 with leaf 6, blank, cancelled).

Signatures: Tiny ink line fragments on f.56v and 72v, lower margin centre, may be vestiges of otherwise lost signatures.

Condition of manuscriptGenerally worn; f.1r is grubbier and more discoloured than the rest, reflecting wear before the insertion of f.i. The outer margin of f.41 and 73 and the lower margin of f.60 have been cropped.

Written area: 185 x 123 mm. Lines: 33 (space, 6 mm; height of minims, 2.5+ mm).


Quire I was shared between Scribes 1 and 2; Quire II was started by Scribe 1 but finished by Scribe 3, who then completed the rest of the book. All three write early versions of Textualis semi-quadrata, that of Scribe 1 being the neatest and most spacious (with echoes of Romanesque Caroline), that of Scribe 3 the most angular. The correcting hand is thought by Michael Gullick to be that of Reginald of Durham.


Arabesque initials in red and green, up to 8 lines high, head the Preface and most Books, the most elaborate being the first two (for the Preface and Book I), the smallest (3 lines high) that for Book VII, the simplest (a plain red letter with modest detailing in green) for Books III-VI and IX (those for Books V and IX have no embellishment at all). Each chapter is headed by a 2+-line-high initial, generally red then green in alternation, occasionally using both colours.

History of section of manuscript

Written in England, later 12th century.

Manuscript contents
(a)     f.1r-101r
Original title: Collationes I-X
Author: Cassian, John, approximately 360-approximately 435
Incipit: Debitum quod beatissimo pape castorio in eorum uoluminum prefatione promissum est
Explicit: si modo sanam et integram mentis intentionem iugi ad deum uersiculi huius meditatione seruauerint
Rubric: Incipit prefacio iohannis heremite in decem collationibus missis ad papam leontium et elladium fratrem karissimum
Language: Latin

Capitula for Collatio II start on f.11v, Collatio II itself on f.12r; Capitula III on f.21v, III on f.22r; Capitula IV on f.31r; IV on f.31v; V on f.39r (no capitula list); VI capitula and VI itself on f.49v; VII on f.58v (no capitula list); VIII on f.70r (no capitula list); IX on f.80v (no capitula list); X on f.93r (no capitula list). F.101v, blank.

Physical description of section of manuscript

Parchment: modest to low quality; stout; both sides yellowish and mottled; holes and flaws. Arranged HF, FH.

Extent: 64 f
Size: 245 mm x 172 mm


Signatures: One signature of uncertain date: a very faint “B” on f.110r, lower margin, left.

Condition of manuscriptGenerally grubby.

Written area: generally 186-190 x 110-115 mm (f.102, 180 x 110 mm), long lines. The verse texts on f.150v-163r are set out in 2 columns (width, 50 mm). Lines: generally 33; however, quire I has 32 then 34 before settling upon 33, while quire V uses 36 and 37. (Space, 6 mm; height of minims, 2+ mm).


Textualis semi-quadrata; the number of hands uncertain, probably one, starting neat and compact, gradually becoming more expansive, elongated, and less tidy.


Incipits and subsections of items (b) to (f) are all headed by plain or embellished initials, 3 lines high, predominantly red, but red and green in alternation on f.104v-107r and on f.120v-123v, with a single blue example on f.108r. Guide letters for the many of the initials survive in the margins. Item (g) is headed by an elaborately embellished “A”, 13 lines high; subsections are marked by plain or slightly embellished initials, 3-20 lines high, generally red or green (both colours were used in those on f.137r and 138r; black ink on f.145v-146r); design sketches are visible under those on f.139v, 142v, 144r, 145r; examples on f.140v, 143r, 145v and 146r appear to have been re-done in rasura.

History of section of manuscript

Written in England, late 12th century.

Manuscript contents
(b)     f.102r-110v and 111v-123v
Original title: Synonyma
Author: Isidore, of Seville, Saint, -636
Incipit: Venit nuper ad manus meas quedam scedula
Explicit: Nichil mihi te carius, nichil mihi te dulcius, tu mihi supra uitam meam places in secula seculorum.
Rubric: Incipit prologus libri soliloquiorum isidori archiepiscopi
Language: Latin

With an extract from Gregory the Great, item (c) below, intercalated between Books I and II, copied by the same scribe as part of the text. Light annotation by several hands, 12th - 15th centuries, including Nota marks, pointing hands and “Nota bene”.

(c)     f.110r-111v
Modern title: Note on Vices (extract)
Author: Gregory I, Pope, approximately 540-604
Incipit: Temptancia uicia que inuisibili contra nos prelio regnante super se superbia militant, alia more
Explicit: semel principalibus uitiis capta dum multiplicatis iniquitatibus in insaniam uertitur, ferali iam inmanitate uastatur
Rubric: Gregorius papa de pestifera matre uitiorumque regina superbia, et quo ordine ei sui nequissimi obtemperant duces, atque nefandissimus militet excercitus
Language: Latin

Extracts from Moralia, Book 31, c. 45 and related texts, interpolated into item (b).

(d)     f.123v-127v
Original title: De tribus habitaculis animae
Author: Patrick, Bishop of Dublin, -1084
Incipit: Tria sunt sub omnipotentis dei manu habitacula
Explicit: Tunc diabolus in conspectu electorum dei dampnabitur. Tunc iusti deum sine fine laudabant, cui est honor et gloria in secula seculorum Amen
Rubric: Augustinus de gaudiis electorum et penis reproborum
Language: Latin

The final sentences have been abbreviated. “Nota” and pointing hand on f.127r.

Gwynn, A., The writings of Bishop Patrick 1074-1084
(e)     f.127v-129r
Original title: Epistola
Author: Lietbertus of Saint-Ruf, -1110
Incipit: Ierio ferranice congregationis uenerabili preposito sanctoque eius conuentui et omnibus in canonico ordine secundum deum uiuentibus humilis
Explicit: Tria his uerbis maxime commendantur id est ordo, uita, et habitus
Rubric: Epistola de ordine canonicorum
Language: Latin
(f)     f.129r-131v
Original title: Epistolae
Author: Ivo, Saint, Bishop of Chartres, approximately 1040-1116
Incipit: Reuerendo confratri petro pictauensi episcopo, Ivo humilis ecclesie carnotensis minister sic bona plantare ut non studeat bona euellere
Explicit: alacriter et fortiter obseruare studeatis
Language: Latin

Epistles 36 (to Peter, bishop of Poitiers, 1094) and 10 (to the nuns of Saint-Avit, 1091x2). No rubrics. 15th century annotation (“Nota quod vix bonus monachus esset predicator”), pointing hand and underlining; all on f.129v.

(g)     f.131v-163r
Modern title: Miracles of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Language: Latin

44 items, some in verse.

Physical description of section of manuscript

Parchment: low quality with glaring contrast between H/F sides. Arranged: HF, FH.

Extent: 9 f
Size: 245 mm x 172 mm

I8 f.172 (endleaf) is a singleton, now glued at the gutter to f.171 and to the modern endleaf.

Condition of manuscriptRubbed and stained, especially on f.164r and 171v.

Written area: 183 x 112 mm. Two columns (width, 52 mm). Lines: 32 (space, 5+ mm; height of minims, 2+ mm).


Written in Textualis semi-quadrata by 3 scribes.


Each item is headed by a red or green initials, 2-12 lines high, the smallest being that for no. 8; guide-letters survive for most of them. Crude flourishing in black was added to that for item 2, probably 12th/13th century.

History of section of manuscript

Written in England, end of 12th century.

Manuscript contents
(h)     f.164r-171v
Modern title: Miracles of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Rubric: Incipiunt miracula de domina nostra sancta maria
Language: Latin

8 items. A pen-trial alphabet was added to f.171v,14th century, continuing on f.172r. Also added to f.172r, in the 14th century, were pen-trials.

Microfilmed in 1985/86 by the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library, St John's Abbey and University, Collegeville, Minnesota. Copies held by them and Durham Cathedral Library.

Digitised material for Durham Cathedral Library MS. B.IV.10 - John Cassian, Collationes, etc.
Digitised March 2019 as part of the Durham Priory Library Recreated project


Catalogi veteres librorum Ecclesiae cathedralis dunelm. Catalogues of the library of Durham cathedral, at various periods, from the conquest to the dissolution, including catalogues of the library of the abbey of Hulne, and of the mss.   OCLC citation, Surtees Society 7, (London: J.B. Nichols and Son, [1838]).

Gwynn, A., Patrick Bishop og Dublin. The writings of Bishop Patrick 1074-1084   OCLC citation, v.1 (Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1955)

Mynors, R.A.B., Durham Cathedral manuscripts to the end of the twelfth century. Ten plates in colour and forty-seven in monochrome. With an introduction [including a list of all known Durham manuscripts before 1200]   OCLC citation, (Durham: 1939)

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